The Bureau of Land Management has extended the public comment period on six draft supplemental environmental impact statements for the resource management plans that guide management of greater sage-grouse habitat on public lands in seven Western states.
The comment period is being extended until May 21, 2020. The documents remain available online, with information on methods for submitting comments, including “no-touch” online submission, alongside the documents in the BLM’s ePlanning system.
“The current draft SEISs draw on environmental analysis of the range of alternatives in both the 2019 and 2015 plans, to illustrate how best available science was used and to clarify the BLM’s approach to compensatory mitigation,” said Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management Casey Hammond. “We anticipate robust comments to result from these multiple tiers of analysis, which demonstrate the broad scope and thoroughness we’ve brought to this effort.”
“Completing the SEISs is one of Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt’s highest resource management priorities,” Hammond added. “The BLM has worked with our neighbors at the state and local levels of government since 2017 to ensure long-term greater sage-grouse conservation and to ensure the viability of local communities across the West. This collaborative approach has continued during development of the SEISs.”
The BLM will use comments received on the draft SEISs to help determine whether there is a need to amend the 2019 plans, which were adopted to better align BLM plans for managing habitat with state plans for conserving the species, acknowledging the circumstances and needs of each individual state. The 2019 plans received bipartisan support from the governors who sought changes to the 2015 plans for their respective states.
States primarily manage wildlife species, and federal agencies like the BLM manage wildlife habitat. The BLM manages tens of millions of acres of sage-steppe landscapes on which some 350 species of plants and wildlife depend and where many people find livelihood and recreation.
The BLM continues to prioritize efforts to conserve greater sage-grouse by restoring sagebrush habitat, and the agency has increased the number of acres treated in every Fiscal Year. Since 2013, nearly $294 million has been spent on habitat treatments across 2.7 million acres of BLM-managed lands. For FY2020, treatment of another 316,000 acres is planned, at a cost of $38.6 million.